Former student Jesse McLaughlin remains paralyzed below the neck
four months later
By: Jill Kimball
Four and a half months after a Veneta man accidentally shot him
in the forest of Lane County, 21-year-old former University student
Jesse Solomon McLaughlin still rests in a clinic bed unable to move
anything below his neck.
On the afternoon of Oct. 13 last year, McLaughlin and some
friends from work were out paintballing in the woods where Derek Eli
Madsen, 29, was hunting with his own friends. Madsen spotted
McLaughlin in the bushes and, mistakenly thinking he was an animal,
pointed his small caliber rifle and fired a single shot into
When Madsen rushed to the scene and found out he had shot
McLaughlin, he "threw his hands up and started screaming," said
Jonathan Beckenhauer, one of McLaughlin's coworkers at the
International House of Pancakes who went paintballing with him that
"McLaughlin celebrates 21st in Sacred Heart," 10.26.07
"Student shot by hunter while out paintballing," 10.16.07
When paramedics arrived, Madsen was "lying in a ditch in the
fetal position crying 'I didn't mean it' over and over again," said
longtime family friend Victor Rozek in a letter to The
Register-Guard published on Nov. 25.
"It's an example of how unfair life can be" on both sides of the
picture, Rozek said.
McLaughlin was taken to Sacred Heart Medical Center and stayed
there for more than two months in critical condition. He was
transferred to the intensive care unit at Legacy Good Samaritan
Hospital in Portland for a week to be closer to his family, and he
now resides at the Rehabilitation Institute of Oregon, according to
his brother Isaac McLaughlin.
"Day-to-day progress is hard to see sometimes with an injury like
this," Isaac McLaughlin said. "But from day one until now, it is
amazing how far he has come." McLaughlin still needs a ventilator to
breathe properly, but "the only thing holding him back from being
able to speak, eat and swallow is that a muscle in his throat will
not relax on its own," his brother said. "Specialists are working on
a solution for that as we speak."
Thanks to extensive therapy at RIO, McLaughlin is now able to
drive a wheelchair with the pressure and vacuum he creates through a
Friends and family visit McLaughlin often and have managed to
stay positive, although it is unlikely that he will ever regain
feeling below his neck.
"Doctors and specialists have told many people they will never
walk or move again in their life and they have been wrong," Isaac
McLaughlin said. "We are hoping with time that we see changes in the
Beckenhauer hasn't talked to McLaughlin's mother Melissa for
about a month, but he said he and his brother Todd, who was also
present when Madsen fired the shot, still think about McLaughlin
"We were becoming pretty good friends," Beckenhauer said.
Even Jesse McLaughlin himself has stayed positive despite his
physical disabilities resulting from the injury.
"He can still find humor and joy in life," Rozek said. "I've
never heard him talk about wanting vengeance for the person who shot
On Dec. 7, Madsen pleaded not guilty to two charges, one a felony
for hunting from a vehicle and the other an assault with a firearm.
Madsen was released and is out of custody, but is scheduled to
appear again in court on April 2.
© Copyright 2008 Oregon Daily Emerald